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How to Deal With a Narcissist Boss - A Guide for Women

Types of Narcissism | By: Katie Lister

April 10, 2024

How do I tell if my boss is a narcissist? How do I deal with a narcissistic boss? How do I avoid triggers from my narcissistic boss? If you have these and other questions, you are in the right place!

Hi, my name is Katie Lister. I am a practicing Registered Nurse and the founder of Growth Gals. I lead personal development groups and coach women to live their best lives authentically. Growth Gals provides a safe space for women to connect with like-minded individuals, learn, and offer support to one another.

At GG, we discuss different topics important to women, such as emotional intelligence, self-awareness, interpersonal relationships, and mental health. This article will give you all the information you need to know about how to deal with a narcissistic boss.

Table of Contents

Katie Lister

Katie Lister

Written by Katie Lister, RN, BScN. An experienced Registered Nurse, Group Facilitator, Life Coach, and Community Leader. Read Katie's Full Author Bio

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is a mental health condition that exists on a spectrum. According to mental health experts, all humans have attributes of narcissism. However, only the severity of their symptoms determine whether one has NPD or not. Some people lean more into the spectrum than others. When the narcissistic traits impair a person’s ability to empathize with others or care about the feelings of other people, the person can be said to have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

The American Psychiatric Association lays out the criteria for diagnosing NPD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). For an NPD diagnosis by qualified mental health providers, one needs to exhibit five of the following symptoms:

  •       Grandiose sense of self-importance
  •       Sense of entitlement
  •       Fixated on beauty, power, wealth, and success
  •       Obsessed with self-image and only wants to be around extraordinary or influential people
  •       Takes advantage of others
  •       Lack of empathy
  •       Arrogant and self-absorbed
  •       Excessive need for admiration and praise
  •       Full of envy for others and believes everyone is envious of them

Because of their over inflated sense of self-importance, their go-getter attitude and need to be better than everyone else, more often than not most bosses and leaders can be narcissistic, especially overt narcissists. If you are wondering whether your boss is a narcissist, here is a narcissist checklist of all the signs to look out for.

Signs Your Boss is Narcissistic 

People with NPD have excellent interpersonal skills and are masters at manipulation. They rise through the ranks with their charming personalities while subjecting their juniors to narcissistic abuse. Here are some of the red flags and signs your boss is narcissistic.

They love admiration

A narcissistic boss is self-centered and prefers to surround himself with people who praise and admire him. Such a boss will value such employees and openly favor them over those who don’t show the same undeserved admiration for them, even when they are the better workers.

Narcissists usually struggle with low self-worth and need praise to feel better about himself. With such a boss, flattery works well, as he will do anything for praise and admiration. The narcissistic boss loves to brag in public and wants the world to know how good he is at his job.

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They manipulate others using anger and aggression 

Narcissistic bosses manipulate employees using anger and aggression. The boss might come to your desk, raise his voice, pound his fist on the desk, or demean you in front of your colleagues if you defy him or raise your concerns. The narcissist will punish you publicly so that nobody else tries to defy him.

Is my boyfriend a narcissist? This article has all the answers. 

They lack empathy

Your narcissistic boss lacks emotional intelligence and has no empathy. He feels nothing about your struggles, whether at work or in your personal life. If you have a family emergency or get sick, he may make mean comments that dismiss what you are experiencing.

They may say, “It can’t be that bad,” or “Are you trying to avoid working?” The narcissistic boss may ridicule your time-off requests, refuse to help with tasks, or give impossible deadlines with no extensions.

They brag that they are above the rules 

A toxic boss will do everything possible to prove to everyone that they are above the rules. Their objective is to remind their juniors who’s in charge and that they have more privileges. For instance, a narcissistic boss may ban employees from using the company phone for personal calls and brag to the junior employees that he can do whatever he wants because he is the boss.

They never admit to their mistakes

A narcissistic boss can never admit they were wrong. He will deny his mistake, even if others saw what happened. This is called gaslighting, a common narcissistic abuse tactic where the narcissist makes you or others doubt their reality.

For instance, your boss fails to tell you when an assignment is due. When the deadline arrives, he accuses you of not finishing on time. The boss insists he told you about the deadline when he knows he didn’t. He will gaslight you, making you feel inadequate at your job and as though you are crazy.

They want to seem like the hero

A narcissistic boss always wants to be recognized as the hero in every situation. He will stage a problem, solve it, and then expect everyone to thank him for being the hero. A narcissist always wants all eyes to be on him and hates when anyone else gets the credit or admiration.

He will praise you if what you are doing makes him look good. If your performance threatens him, he will deliberately sabotage you so that he stays in the spotlight.

Takes credit for other people’s work

A narcissistic boss takes credit for the hard work done by his junior employees to boost his self-esteem. When required to take accountability for any mistakes, he quickly blames others.


Micromanagement and narcissism mostly go together. Your narcissistic boss uses micromanagement to feel in control and validated. Micromanagement also makes it easier for him to manipulate situations and later take credit for your work or ideas.

How to Deal with a Narcissistic Boss

One of the ways you can avoid a narcissistic boss from impacting your well-being is by leaving the toxic work environment. However, leaving employment is sometimes not an option. Here is how to deal with a narcissistic boss.

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Understand their thinking

Understanding your boss’s psychology can help you interpret his behaviors. Some people’s actions stem from their need to protect their self-image due to vulnerabilities and insecurities. Identifying the types of narcissism can also help you figure out whether your boss is a malignant, overt, or covert narcissist.

Use the gray rock technique

A narcissistic boss thrives on your emotional reactions, using them to control you. One way to stop your boss’s antagonism is to gray-rock him. Gray-rocking means not responding to mean comments and steering the conversation back to work-related topics.

Protect yourself

You must constantly guard yourself professionally and emotionally. Avoid office gossip or drama and set boundaries. Keep a low profile to prevent the narcissistic boss from seeing you as a threat that he needs to neutralize.

Keep records

Keeping record of your conversations or communication might come in handy when you need to provide evidence. Document any requests and record everything you are working on. This prevents your boss from trying to minimize your role in the company to gaslight you about your work.

Provide positive feedback

While a little controversial, consider providing positive feedback and praise whenever your boss does something admirable. This will make you less likely to be the target of his narcissistic abuse. People with narcissism traits seek admiration and validation, so sincere admiration and compliments work well.

Practice some self-care

Working with toxic people drains you both mentally and emotionally. You must love yourself and practice self-care to boost your morale and prevent burnout. You can do several things:

  • Pick up hobbies: Doing things you love gives you something positive to look forward to and a perfect work-life balance.
  • Focus on your family: Focus on safe relationships with loved ones who motivate you when work is difficult.
  • Meditation: Meditation and exercises like journaling or yoga boost wellness and help you process heavy emotions when you deal with your work boss.

Seek support

To manage the behavior of a narcissistic boss, seek support from a mentor or the Human Resources manager. They can help you mediate a conversation with your boss. A support system is essential to navigate the situation and protect your well-being in the workplace.

Consider your options

If you are in a position to leave the company and get a new job, it is often better to consider resigning . If this is not the case, you should consider learning more about how to deal with a narcissistic boss. This will go a long way in making it easier for you to deal with your demanding boss from an informed perspective.

Understand who he is, what NPD is, and how to protect yourself will make your work life much more bearable. At the same time, you can be widening your professional scope on platforms like LinkedIn to try and find new opportunities in hopefully healthier work environments.

Are narcissists born or made? Find out here. 

How to Deal With a Narcissist Boss: How Growth Gals Can Help

Our aim at Growth Gals is to inspire women to reach their full potential. We also strive to create positive change by giving women the resources to discover their true selves and expand their knowledge base on various issues, such as mental health, interpersonal relationships and emotional intelligence.

Growth Gals helps women overcome obstacles and make informed decisions. We also help them connect with other women with similar values and experiences. Subscribe to the Growth Gals newsletter to access resources and helpful guides for women. Learn more about how we can support you and help you if you are dealing with a narcissistic boss.

how-to-deal with a narcissist boss-GG

How to Deal With a Narcissist Boss: Conclusion

Dealing with a narcissistic boss can drain you emotionally and mentally.  The narcissist boss is arrogant, takes credit for your work, is aggressive, and has other narcissistic behaviors. Learning how to deal with a narcissist boss equips you with the tools and skills needed to survive a narcissistic boss. This article provides all the information you need to create a conducive work environment for yourself even while having a narcissistic boss.

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